Atheism

From Faithful to Faithless: My journey to becoming an Atheist.

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By Baraka Kofi Asante

“I will not take ‘but’ for an answer”- Langston Hughes

  Ever grew up believing something you thought was true, you go off to college and the first real lesson you truly learn is that you have been lied to. Now, how would that make you feel? You probably would be angry, upset, irate, and the list would go on about different ways to describe your feelings. But after you realize you have been lied to, you start to think “what do I do next”?  The next step is the most liberating part of this amazing journey to discovering the truth. As you start this philosophical journey you find yourself shedding away the fairy tales. You enjoy learning the truth because you remember this old saying “only the truth will set you free”. And as you shed away the lies you come across some hard pills of truth to swallow. Pretty much you entire your life is about to change due to the truth you seek, but it always easier said than done. Well at that’s what happened to me. Where I am actually going with this? I am about to tell the story about why I became an atheist.

Now my story is very similar to everyone else’s, I grew up super religious always trying to convert people in my own way. I was pretty much always in church doing some type of church activity. My life revolved around Christianity and the church so much that I was given the nick names junior deacon, junior rev, young minister etc. I was almost to a point in my life where I was going to become a right before I left Christianity to only convert to Islam; I was on the path to become a Reverend for the AME church. But that didn’t make me become an atheist that was my only the beginning of it. I was agnostic for a minute then I finally told myself that god does not exist, and religion was not the best thing for me, due to my terrible past experiences dealing with religion

Atheism is neither a religion nor a belief system for people who don’t believe in god.  We do not have rules for us to live by. It is not a bunch of people who hate god or some type of creator. I do understand where and why people see or think that, because there is plenty of militant atheist but that with any type of people. There are also plenty of militant Christians, Muslims, Jewish, or any type of religious orientated people, some would call them fundamentalist. According to the oxford dictionary atheism is defined as “Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods” (oxford dictionary). Here is the origins of the term also “Late 16th century: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos, from a- ‘without’ + theos ‘god.”. (oxford dictionary) In simpler terms atheism means non-belief in a god that is all and that is it, we just do not believe in a higher power, deity or God.

Why did I become an atheist? Well, for me, this wasn’t always the case. As I stated before I grew up in a devout Christian home, then later on down the road I converted to Islam. I started to second guess the existence of a god or deity after I left Islam. Although so many people thought I was happy as a Muslim, I was actually really unhappy and confused about what I believed in. It started off great but after a few months in, I started to feel like Allah (god) was mad with me. I remember seeking advice from my brothers in the deen (religion) about what was going on and I would always get the same response. “It’s the will of Allah, and there’s nothing you can do but accept and repent to your Lord”. Now for a free-thinker that sounds like some sick twisted shenanigans but Muslims actually believe this. After hearing this response again and again, I started to really doubt if god even existed.

In this journey, there have been a few experiences that I will always remember as real eye-openers for me. Sometime during Fall of last year I posted a question on Facebook that I considered to be pretty harmless. The question was how can we actually know that god really does exist? Within a few moments a swarm of people on my friends list were attacking me for asking this question. They were telling me things like “how could you say that”, “what’s wrong with you of course god is real”, and “look at all he has done for you”. After seeing these comments my brain began to bring up old information about how certain religions used their sacred books to enslave innocent people, so I decided to ask these religious crusaders if they felt that this was true. Let’s just say for sake of time and the length of this article if you didn’t really believe or was somewhat on the fence about the existence of god, then those words could make someone question their faith. Well, to be honest that’s what it did for me and that’s when I secretly became an agnostic atheist. I wanted to believe that god was real but just couldn’t find a way to prove him. The only way to prove god was through religion and in my personal experience with religion it only had one purpose and that was to enslave people. At that point in my life I had had enough of religion.

Within the past two years I have dealt with my share of painful events, including the passing of my dear uncle. If you knew how close we were then you could totally understand my pain. Losing a loved one often causes people to question their faith and I was no exception to this.  For some strange reason, a reason I still don’t understand, I started to hate god. I felt like if there was a god than my uncle would be alive today. When I think back to my religious experiences all I hear is the people saying “it’s the will of god”. I hated this with a passion because it was such huge cop-out for people to say. I would rather have people say they don’t know than to make up some religious malarkey. After really thinking about the lies and contradictions in religion and learning a lot about science, philosophy and the cosmos, I just stopped believing in god and started my own spiritual journey.

So you are probably curious about where I am at now with my spirituality and to be honest I am still searching for the truth and I think I will always search for it. I have natural curiosity and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Becoming an atheist has been no cakewalk for me and lately I have overcome some really dark moments. Coming to the realization that I no longer believe in a higher power or god, has been the most liberatingly frightening experience of my life. When you have spent your whole life believing that this Supreme Being has your best interest at heart, you feel that you must trust in it to lead you where it sees fit. This belief system did not leave much room for personal growth because I literally put all my faith in something I could not see or even understand in hopes that it would bring me peace and purpose. I have often felt hopeless and felt that life had no meaning but I have also felt more free and confident now that I have truly started this spiritual journey. I have realized that I AM in control of my own life, so the only thing left to do is to just enjoy the ride and stay mindful. You can still find purpose in your life without religion, it is just up to find what your purpose is. And that my friend is where I am at now with my journey.

 

Baraka Kofi Asante

 

Recommended Books & Documentaries:

  1. Losing Faith in Faith by Dan Barker
  2. Reasonable Atheism: A Moral Case For Respectful Disbelief by Scott F. Aikan & Robert B.Talisse
  3. Curiosity Did God Create the Universe with Stephen Hawking (Documentary)

 

Work Cited:

  1. Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web.
  2. Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web.

How Religion is Used As Emotional Blackmail/GUEST AUTHOR

by Raven Burnes

                       The hymn ended and the preacher launched into a highly emotional and symbolic sermon, recounting how our mothers had given birth to us, how they had nursed us from infancy, how they had tended us when we were sick, how they had seen us grow up, how they had watched over us, how they had always known what was best for us. He then called for yet another hymn, which was hummed. He chanted above it in a melancholy tone:

                        “Now, I’m asking the first mother who really loves her son to bring him to me for baptism!”

                        Goddam, I thought. It had happened quicker than I had expected. My mother was looking steadily at me.

                        “Come, son, let your old mother take you to God,” she begged. “I brought you into the world, now let me help to save you.”

                        She caught my hand and I held back.

                        “I’ve been as good a mother as I could,” she whispered through her tears.

                        “God is hearing every word,” the preacher underscored her plea.

                        This business of saving souls had no ethics; every human relationship was shamelessly exploited. In essence, the tribe was asking us whether we shared its feelings; if we refused to join the church, it was equivalent to saying no, to placing ourselves in the position of moral monsters. One mother led her beaten and frightened son to the preacher amid shouts of amen and hallelujah.

                        “Don’t you love your old crippled mother, Richard?” my mother asked. “Don’t leave me standing here with my empty hands, she said, afraid that I would humiliate her in public.

                        It was no longer a question of my believing in God; it was no longer a matter of whether I would steal or lie or murder; it was a simple, urgent matter of public pride, a matter of how much I had in common with other people. If I refused, it meant that I did not love my mother, and no man in that tight little black community had ever been crazy enough to let himself be placed in such a position. My mother pulled my arm and I walked with her to the preacher and shook his hand, a gesture that made me a candidate for baptism. There were more songs and prayers; it lasted until well after midnight. I walked home limp as a rag; I had not felt anything except sullen anger and a crushing sense of shame. Yet I was somehow glad that I had got it over with; no barriers now stood between me and the community.

                        “Mama, I don’t feel a thing,” I told her truthfully.

                        “Don’t you worry; you’ll grow into feeling it,” she assured me.

                        And when I confessed to the other boys that I felt nothing, they too admitted that they felt nothing.

                        “But the main thing is to be a member of the church,” they said (Wright 154-155).

I am currently reading Richard Wright’s autobiography Black Boy, and scenes like the one above are plentiful. Religion and “faith” are waved around like a spiked billy club designed to usher all wayward freethinkers into submission. I was struck by how little has changed in terms of how much pressure is put on people to make a “decision” for God – a decision that seems to be more about other people – and their power and reputation – than it is about you.

I realize that this pressure probably has evolutionary origins. We are a social species. Family/tribe membership has always been essential for our survival. Nevertheless, as we continue to evolve as a species, our concept of “the tribe” is necessarily expanding. With this expansion, I am hopeful that the outdated emotional blackmail used to bully children – and anyone who thinks differently – into religion will fall away as well.

 

Work Cited

Wright, Richard. Black Boy (American Hunger): A Record of Childhood and Youth. New York: Perennial Classics, 1998. 154-155. Print.

 

 

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The Unwanted | Being Hated By Your Own People

 

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Someone like me who’s bisexual – and out about it, a black woman, and an atheist – outspoken. Add some of the most unconventional activities and different genres of music [I enjoy hockey and listening to metal music] and you’ll have something outside of their ‘element’. Some of these characteristics were already well known among family and friends and they made fun of you for it. Calling you Oreo and confused; some even called you racist – you hated your own kind, you’re betraying black people, you need Jesus. But that is as far as it went. It was almost tolerable to take the verbal onslaught of who you are as a person. They’ll walk by on occasion and tell you that you need to be going to church and listening to gospel. They may even go to their church and talk about it among the congregation; after they see the ass kickings weren’t working on you or for their back. You never understood why they tried to beat you like the very slaves they made you do home reports about in the books they themselves couldn’t read. The only person not making a big deal out of it is you and for some reason, it’ll start bugging the fuck out of you. You get annoyed and come close to telling everyone in church about themselves. Especially Ms. Charolette, we know what she does with Deacon Brown in the bathroom downstairs while everyone is at the pew praying for whatever sin they committed last week. Every eye isn’t closed. You’ve walked in on Pastor Otis who is sometimes in compromising positions. Somehow, a few collection baskets never quite make it all the way home – or so you thought – they seem to get lost in  Pastor Otis’ pockets. He always has that ‘deer caught in headlights’ gloss over his face. We don’t even want to get on the congregation, child! Oh, man! Ms. Davis’ daughter immediately got pregnant again and somehow it’s the devils fault and she needs to find her way back to Jesus! This is her fourth pregnancy when are you going to stop blaming the devil? Mr. Watley, he needs to stop messing around with all those young women; or at least, stop talking so loudly about his affairs when his wife is in the choir. The guys gossip just as much as the gals.

gtj

They’d be so mad. So you don’t let off on them because you value having a family more than value having a different opinion.

You remember as a child, all the times you sat under your moth-eaten blankets creating up stories for god and why he wasn’t around answering your prayers. Your grandmother is still calling you ugly and would be better off on your back; beating you when your big brother is caught on top of you. You remember asking god why was he punishing you. How did you end up around so many people who stopped caring when the dresses stopped looking as cute because now the girl wearing them can form her own opinion.

Who do you hate more at this point? Your family, or God? You don’t have anyone to ask these questions to. You can’t go to your family because they’d beat you for asking questions. So you’re stuck inside your own head for years because everyone around you is indoctrinated. You go along with it until you can’t take it anymore. Just when you thought you were an outcast already, your “family” proves you wrong…again. They tell the rest of the family to not talk to you. They try their damnedest to make you feel bad for being an atheist by kicking you and your son out on the street with no remorse. Yes, you’re an adult now and it seems like their hatred for anything different than them quadruples in intensity. They don’t give you a chance to get your things and just destroy your property and whatever else they didn’t destroy they sell or keep for themselves. So, you’re left with nothing and now have to start over…again.

You move on and reestablish yourself in another city, you haven’t talked to your family in almost a year. You decide against your best interest to one day call them. You reach out to them and of course, they need something from you and when you tell them no, they call you satan’s offspring and wish you’d burn in hell. Clearly, nothing has changed. They didn’t even lend a hand when your marriage failed. They were too busy telling themselves “I told her so”. Why did you expect anything different?

Your neighborhood friends now all grown up, they don’t understand. You can tell with the questions they ask: “Isn’t that a white thing?” You cringe every time you hear it. Soon thereafter, they stop talking to you and pretend they don’t see you. It finally gets backs to you that you’re “a stuck-up bitch that got a hold of voodoo spirits and now you’re being possessed by the devil”. Y’know, shit you thought you’d only hear in movies. Realizing that these people would rather believe a rumor than to get the truth, you’re fine dismissing the rest of your childhood. Let them be a distant memory of what was and is no longer. The fewer people in your life the better.

Everybody you date is religious and they oftentimes have more of a time accepting your atheism than you being bisexual. They somehow make up excuses for atheism. They blame it on your bisexuality. They tell you the very same thing every other black person in your life has told you: “It’s just a phase.” “You lost your way.” “You need to pray.” You’ve heard it all before. For some reason, outside of telling you what you need to do, they never tried to convert you and you never try to deconvert them. Showing their hypocrisy, sex outside of marriage seems to be fine  with them. They didn’t mind putting Jesus to the side to have you in their arms. “This is ridiculous!” you say and decide that dating black men and women are going to forever be foolish, unequivocally devoted to something they half-ass believe in; will only use to as a means to control. You later find down the road find that not all of them are blind. Not all of them are brainwashed. There are those who can “believe in self” and not be two steps away from hoteppin’. You know this because you keep constantly running into them. It gives you hope. It’s refreshing.

More and more of us are coming out because, in one way or another, our family have already disowned us. Now, they don’t have much left to fear. If your own family hates you for who you are, you shouldn’t expect anything less from complete strangers. Yes, plan for the worst, but hope for the best. Sure.

While you let that be what gets you to sleep at night, we know better. Deep down, we know YOU know better. We learn about hate at a very young age. It’s second-nature to a lot of us.

For most, it’s easier to hate than to take the time to understand.

prayers and thoughts

It’s not anti-religious to believe “thoughts and prayers” aren’t enough in the face of an epidemic of gun violence!

But secularists have been saying that two hands clasped in prayer have done absolutely nothing.

I would like for the congregation to open up their bibles and turn to James 2:14 – 26. The scripture states:

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Oh, we’re going to church today. Forgot to mention that.

Prayer isn’t being attacked – well, a lot of people would beg to differ, so I won’t speak for everyone. I’m not personally attacking prayer itself. Pray. Pray all the fuck you want. Then get up and do something. Be an instrument of “god” in seeing the things for which you have prayed come to pass. It is ridiculous to ask your god to fix something that you are able but unwilling to fix yourselves. It’s like asking God to cut your grass when you have a perfectly good lawnmower.

You know, people who bark at people about Christian values because they feel that they have validation, but fall into the ‘No good Scotsman’ category, you guys need a word and I think I have one.

Christianist – A person who claims to be a follower of Christian teachings, but actively engages in acts, deeds, and messages that are contrary to the teachings. In short, ignorance of the script of the ‘Sermon On The Mount’.

Do you like it? I do. Your Christ was crystal clear about his disdain for the hypocrites who make a show of their religion by praying in public. Must have skipped over that in bible study.

What I’m getting at – what the entire secularist community is and has been getting at – is that prayer does nothing. Facebooking to Jesus hasn’t done anything. It has become an automatic response for too many: #praying #thoughtsandprayers #RIP It makes one feel better about either not wanting to or not being able to actually do something to change. In the meantime, these horrific events continue to happen and more people are victimized. People need to look beyond what makes them feel better and stop these asinine ass hashtags. Expressions of prayer are personal and not something you blurt out on social media. You can’t use religion to combat the first glimmers of liberating ourselves from religion. What does it matter what a random, possibly mentally ill, primitive man said millennia ago? Move on!

Saying prayer doesn’t help is not anti-religious It’s just that ‘thoughts & prayers’ do absolutely nothing for the victims. Thoughts and prayers only help to make those who didn’t die, feel better. 

Come on, congregation! I know you’re not asleep on me, are you? Turn your bibles to Isaiah 29:13. The scripture states:

13 Therefore the Lord said:

“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men

You know what that means, right? We can all agree that what this is saying is that you can’t praise Jesus and not be about Jesus’ teachings and works. It’s what I like to call a hypocrite if you will.

It’s pathetic that the majority of humanity has yet to evolve past the need for imaginary deities. If the world were to put aside such childish things and focus on the betterment of our species we nrawould have world peace, zero famine and countless technological advancements in all fields of science. Yet, it used to discriminate, murder and persecute; belittle and demean. There is no freedom of religion. Freedom of religion stopped being real when the Christians took over the government and put it onto our money and into our pledge of allegiance. America feels like an average old black lady who sits next to the deacons every Sunday so she feels she’s special – or wait, ‘blessed and highly favored’. Hey, Jesus. How’s it going in Jesus Land? Heard any good prayers lately? The United States has one and we know that we’re your favorite country on earth because you know – ‘in god we trust’!

Talking to yourself with your eyes closed changes so much. I wonder how many murderers prayed for success before they killed someone. we were given the ability to think and act to protect ourselves to simply sit and pray only is the action or inaction of fools.

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Where Are All The Moderate White Christians Denouncing Planned Parenthood Shooting?

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Nowhere to be found, but as expected. You see, they don’t have much to say when the spotlight is on them. Suddenly, he’s a lone wolf and doesn’t represent Christianity as a whole. There’s a built-in double-standard that for some reason, refuses to be made a topic of discussion.

Dear White Guys: The shoe is on the other foot and it is binding, no?

[We’re] thugs and come from the ghetto and broken homes and we’re not allowed to protest due to black-on-black crime because it somehow makes us look like hypocrites.

Regardless of the motives, whatever those may be it doesn’t remove the fact that there are a lot of people quiet when if it were someone of color, they’d be all over Faux News.

& This is why the Ku Klux Klan still exist. That is why far more Americans have been killed in domestic mass shooting events than have been killed in Islamic terrorist attacks.

Related: Yes, The Planned Parenthood Shooter is A ‘Christian Terrorist

What’s weird is that somehow Muslims have to apologize for Paris yet black people are still waiting on reparations. No one is riding up  Robert Lewis Dear ass to make him apologize.

Update: Closing comments due to ignorance.

praying

“Only people who believe in god have the capacity for goodness.” | Guest Author

By Camille McGregor

Earlier today, I was riding in the car with my boyfriend to go and get something to eat. As he was driving, we passed by a car that had come to a full stop right in the middle of a lane. The driver had the hazard lights on. While my boyfriend had continued to drive past the car, I mentioned that I felt bad for the woman in the car because she appeared to be having car trouble. At this point, I was starving but my boyfriend decided to pull around and go back to offer the woman assistance.
We pulled up behind the woman’s car. My boyfriend exited the car and went over to the woman’s car. As I sat in the car, I  saw the exchange he had with her. After speaking to her for what seemed like a half an hour  (because I was so hungry) but in reality was only about ten minutes,  he pushed her car off of the busy road and onto the side of the street so that she could wait in a safer location for a tow truck. A few minutes later, the woman and my boyfriend walked back across the street to where I was seated in the car. I  opened the door to speak with her. Before I could introduce myself,  she belted out, “thank you guys so much for all of your help!” She thanked me for bringing it to my boyfriend’s attention that she seemed as if she may need some help and told me that she was insisting on giving my boyfriend some money for helping her, but he kept refusing to accept it. “So many people drove around me and kept driving. No one offered to help,” she said. She asked for my number and I told her to give me a call and let us know that everything worked out. My boyfriend helped her to cross the busy road,  she thanked him again and he returned to the car.

I am an atheist and so is my boyfriend. One may ask how we were able to bring ourselves to help another human being and be kind to her in her time of need when both of us are void of religion. My answer; religion is not synonymous with morality. One does not need religion to know right from wrong or to have the ability to empathize with others. There are way more believers in the world than non-believers. I am certain the majority of people that saw this woman in a bind and continued to move on without offering any assistance, were believers. However, it took two little non-believers to stop and offer assistance to their fellow human being. Why? Because at the core of who we are, we are good people. I was able to feel for that woman because I imagined how I would feel if I were in her position. My boyfriend decided to go back and help her because he could see that I felt for that woman and he himself is a helpful person at his core. These traits and feelings come from shared humanity, not shared religion.

Many of us as atheists have experienced people assuming or questioning our morality or moral standards because we are not believers. They can not understand and refuse to believe that you can have a good moral compass if you are devoid of religion. This assumption has never seized to not piss me off. I do not need religion to guide me, be my moral compass or to teach me how to be a good person. The universal understanding of humanity is to treat folks how you want to be treated and that is exactly what I do. That is common sense to human beings born with intrinsic moral compasses. As a child, I didn’t turnover another’s kid’s chair so that he or she would fall because I knew if someone did that to me I would be embarrassed. I knew this and understood this before setting foot in anyone’s church or being spoken to about any sort of religious belief. If you ask me, if you need a religious text or someone to tell you to be kind, not hurt others or treat others well in order for you to do so, you are the one with the problem.

I believe that most people are innately good. They do not need man-made entities or belief systems to make them be good. On the contrary, religion has had an overwhelming influence of presenting people with the opportunity to be bad. It has presented people with the opportunity to unfairly judge others, to treat others poorly, to separate themselves from others, to use scare and fear tactics to get people to submit and obey. All in the name of religion. So much bad has been washed away and swept under the rug because it occurred in the name of religion. At the end of the day, my own humanity and my ability to sympathize and empathize with the humanity of others makes me good. In fact, if we look at the history of religion and its present we will see that there are millions of people with religion that have been capable of tremendous bad. The presence of religion does not ensure goodness any more than the absence of religion ensures badness.

Black Atheists – The Other “One-percenters”/Guest Author

by Raven Burnes

“If I were to hazard a guess about the future of black religion, I could not imagine it without according a more prominent role to one percenters” (William David Hart, author of “One Percenters”: Black Atheists, Secular Humanists, and Naturalists, page 676).

 

I read the above quoted essay recently and really enjoyed it. It identified black atheists as approximately one percent of the black population. I’m not sure whether that’s accurate or not. Considering the fact that many atheists are in the closet, either partially or fully, the number could be understated. But, assuming for the moment that the number is accurate, what kind of impact can we expect to realistically have on our theistic brothers and sisters?

 

I think it is important to remember – and Hart makes this clear in his essay – that black secular humanists, freethinkers, naturalists, and atheists have had a powerful effect on the black liberation movement. Freethinker and Darwinist evolutionary supporter, Hubert Harrison, who was known as the “father of Harlem radicalism,” affected the thinking and writings of several black literary and philosophical leaders, including A. Philip Randolph, Chandler Owen, Cyril Briggs, Richard B. Moore, Marcus Garvey, Countee Cullen, W.E.B. Du Bois, Nella Larsen, Walter White, Jessie Redmon Fauset, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X (Hart 676). These notables, in turn, have affected many subsequent black leaders.

 

The late William R. Jones, who wrote “Is God a White Racist,” and Anthony B. Pinn, who wrote Writing God’s Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist, are two more contemporary black freethinking thought leaders. These two men approach the subject of faith from slightly different angles, however: “As a secular humanist, Jones is less interested in debunking theism in the manner of ‘the New Atheists’ than defanging it, ” (Hart 680) while “debunking theism – that is, an epistemically driven desire to take down theism – motivates Pinn more powerfully than it does Jones” (Hart 682). Sikivu Hutchinson, author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values War, adds a much-needed feminist perspective to the contemporary black atheist discussion.

 

So, despite the apparently small numbers, African American secular humanists/atheists/freethinkers have played, and continue to play, a pivotal role in the struggle for racial justice. This should give us hope, despite the persistent caricatures of atheists in general, and black atheists specifically. I believe we play a key role in providing an alternative to “New Atheist” groups, which many (rightly or wrongly) find to be narrowly fixated on science alone, staunchly white male in composition, and seemingly unconcerned with the issues that directly impact African  American communities.

 

Speaking of the atheist community in general, as Hart reminds us (688), being an atheist only means that one does not believe in a God or gods. It does not reveal one’s political persuasion, social awareness, level of sexist or racist beliefs, nor even the adoption of various other non-theistic superstitions. Therefore, as black atheists, we must actively choose to become visible participants in the fight for racial and social justice with or without (preferably with) the support of the larger atheist community. We dare not leave social justice and humanitarian activities solely to the church. As it stands, many African Americans do rely on the black church to provide the types of social services that are needed in our communities. Unfortunately, in addition to this beneficial role, the church continues to promote homophobic and sexist ideas. It also fosters dependence upon a non-existent deity who has not, cannot, and will not do anything for us outside of what we do for ourselves. The shift from “belief” to “action” is key, in my opinion, to uniting black theists and atheists in the common struggle.

 

The actions I propose are the same types of actions that any charitable organization would provide, but under the banner of humanism. The unfortunate stereotype which atheists of all colors are saddled with is that we have no morals. Ignoring for the moment the ridiculousness of this stereotype, in order to be heard, we must combat this false perception with the truth. A common saying among black people is that we must work twice as hard as any other group to get half the respect. Not only is this still true, but atheists have the additional burden of being a minority within a minority. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that the old adage “actions speak louder than words” is no less true today than it has ever been.

 

Let us pay at least as much attention to what we do as what we believe. If we do so, I believe our “one-percent” status will one day cease to be a hindrance, or even a reality.

 

Reference:

Hart, William David. “One Percenters”: Black Atheists, Secular Humanists, And Naturalists.” South Atlantic Quarterly 112.4 (2013): 675-696. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Oct. 2015